Capitals

Wolves, Josh Howard agree to 1-yr deal

201211142214800476590-p2.jpeg

Wolves, Josh Howard agree to 1-yr deal

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) With only nine healthy players on the roster and six of their top seven out because of injuries, the Minnesota Timberwolves were in search of any warm body to help lighten the load for the few players still able to hit the court.

They turned to a player many Wolves fans thought they should have drafted almost a decade ago.

The Wolves agreed to terms on a one-year deal with free agent forward Josh Howard on Thursday, pending a passed physical. Howard arrived in the Twin Cities on Thursday afternoon and the plan was for him to be in uniform against Golden State on Friday night.

``We need somebody at that spot,'' coach Rick Adelman said. ``We looked around and he seemed to be a good candidate.''

The 32-year-old Howard worked out for the Wolves on Monday in Dallas. Howard averaged 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in 43 games with Utah last season. He has also played for Washington and Dallas, which drafted him 29th overall in 2003. The Timberwolves passed on Howard, who was a star at Wake Forest, in favor of high schooler Ndudi Ebi, who was a bust.

Howard went on to make an All-Star team in his seven seasons with the Mavericks, emerging as a potent scorer and athletic defender. He has dealt with numerous injuries in recent seasons, but the Wolves are hoping he can take some of the minutes from Andrei Kirilenko, who has played 44 minutes in each of the last two games.

``He's a versatile player. He's long. He's a good defender,'' Adelman said. ``He should fit in and help us.''

At this point, any forward will be welcome. All-Star forward Kevin Love (broken right hand) and dynamic point guard Ricky Rubio (left knee) aren't expected to make their season debuts until December. The Wolves also lost valuable swingman Chase Budinger for three to four months because of a torn meniscus in his left knee, have seen Brandon Roy's chronic knee issues return to keep him out of the last three games and also have been missing Nikola Pekovic (sprained left ankle) and JJ Barea (sprained left foot).

Despite the deluge of injuries, the Wolves won five of their first seven games. The issues appeared to finally catch up with them in an 89-87 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night, so the Wolves went out and added Howard for the veteran's minimum of $1.2 million.

They waived point guard Will Conroy to make room for Howard.

``It's been hard, but you have to give our guys credit,'' Adelman said. ``We talked to them today about the fact that we can win games, even though you're short-handed.''

Adelman said he expects Howard's transition to be fairly seamless given his experience. They'll just have to ease him in a little bit since Howard did not have a training camp to get into game shape. Once he's up and running, the Wolves hope he can give them a spark at both ends of the floor.

``Offensively, we don't have a lot of firepower,'' Adelman said. ``But if you defend well enough, it helps your offense.''

Pekovic, Roy and Barea are all questionable for the Warriors game, though Adelman said he doubted any of them would be ready. The Wolves have four days off after Friday night, which may tempt them to sit that game out to give them an additional five days of rest and rehab.

If Pekovic has his way, he'll be in the lineup. He did some running on Thursday and said he felt some pain, which didn't seem to bother the big Montenegrin.

``I can't make it any worse,'' he said. ``I'm just trying to help.''

---

Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter:http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski

Quick Links

5 reasons the Caps beat the Lightning in Game 6

5 reasons the Caps beat the Lightning in Game 6

After losing three straight, the Capitals battled back in Game 6 on Monday. With their 3-0 win, Washington forced the Eastern Conference Final into a decisive Game 7 on Wednesday.

Here is how the Caps did it.

1. Braden Holtby matched Andrei Vasilevskiy save for save

Andrei Vasilevskiy was just as great in this game as he was in the three previous, but one of the major differences in this one was that Holtby was just as good. He may not have been tested as much (Vasilevskiy made 32 saves, Holtby 24), but he was big when the team needed.

In the second period with the scored tied at 0, Holtby made one of the most critical saves perhaps of the entire season when he denied Anthony Cirelli with the toe on a 2-on-1. When the Caps took the lead, Holtby really shut the door in the third period with 10 saves to cap off what was his fifth career playoff shutout and first shutout of the entire season.

2. T.J. Oshie’s timely goal

Over halfway into the game, it looked like it was just going to be one of those nights. Caps fans know it well by now. Washington outplays their opponent, they get chance after chance and develop a whopping advantage in shots, but they run into a hot goalie and a random play suddenly turns into a goal for the other team, game and season over.

Vasilevskiy was on his way to having perhaps his best performance of the series. Considering how he played in the three games prior to Game 6, that’s saying something. The Caps were doing everything right, but he continued to make save after save. Then on the power play in the second period, John Carlson struck the inside of the post, the horn went off and the roar of the crowd gave way to dismay as the referee waved his arms to indicate there was no goal and play continued. Just seconds later, T.J. Oshie gave the Caps the 1-0 lead.

You have to wonder if doubt was starting to creep into the back of the minds of the players when that puck struck the post as they wondered what else they had to do to beat Vasilevskiy. Luckily, that feeling didn’t last long.

3. Special teams

Braydon Coburn’s tripping penalty in the second period gave Washington its only power play of the night and its first since the second period of Game 4. They had to make it count given how well Vasilveskiy was playing and they did.

Washington now has a power play goal in each of their three wins against the Lightning and no power play goals in their three losses. So yeah, it’s significant.

Tampa Bay had two opportunities of their own, but Washington managed to kill off both power plays in the penalty kill’s best performance of the series.

4. Washington’s physical game plan

On paper, the Lightning are better than the Caps in most categories. One area in which Washington has the edge, however, is physical play and it was clear very early that they intended to use that to their advantage in Game 6. Tampa Bay was pushed around and they seemed to struggle to recover.

Ovechkin was a one-man wrecking ball out there hitting everything that moved. The energy he brought with every hit was palpable and both the team and the crowd fed on it.

Washington was credited with 39 hits on the night compared to Tampa Bay’s 19. Ovechkin had four of those as did Nicklas Backstrom while Devante Smith-Pelly contributed five and Tom Wilson and Brooks Orpik each led the team with six.

5. Fourth line dagger

Tampa Bay’s fourth line was the story of Game 5, but Washington’s fourth line sealed the deal on Monday with its third period goal.

Chandler Stephenson beat out an icing call, forcing Braydon Coburn to play the puck along the wall. Jay Beagle picked it up, fed back to Stephenson who backhanded a pass for the perfect setup for Devante Smith-Pelly.

Smith-Pelly scored seven goals in the regular season. He now has four in the playoffs.

MORE CAPITALS STORIES:

Quick Links

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

usatsi_10847206.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.